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First, I can’t believe we have finally reached #76 on our journey. It feels like we might make this goal of all 100 counties before Cobey graduates. I might not have to delay his graduation after all. Several have asked what order we go in! The answer is there is no rhyme or reason or plan. Where we go next may depend on the time of year, what we are studying, or someone may invite us to come check out their county. It just all depends. This all leads me to how we ended up in Duplin. It was one of the counties we had left on the way (sort of) to the beach for Thanksgiving.

20171121_112657We started out at Duplin County Veterans Museum in Warsaw. The museum is located in the beautiful 1894 L.W. Best home. Warsaw is famous for the longest continuous running Veteran’s Day parade. It is evident that the county appreciates and loves veterans. The museum focuses on veterans from the county and their stories. It has tons of memorabilia throughout history. The museum is only open two days a week. It is usually not open on Tuesday but we called about a week ahead of time and they kindly opened for us. I encourage you to plan ahead and check out the museum when you are in the area.

23847452_375166186241673_3435016980061895842_oNext, we had lunch at the Country Squire opened in 1961. I highly recommend this place! It is a very captivating atmosphere located inside an old barn and cabin.  The decor of old cupboards, trees, fireplaces, and antiques give it the feeling of legends and romance. It is  Southern hospitality with a Scottish flair. You have to see it to understand it! The food was very good and reasonable. We also had good service for a large party.  The dinner menu is totally different- more upscale and looks wonderful. I can’t wait to go back and try out it out with maybe a glass of their own wine.

 

20171121_14525920171121_150337Our next stop was Liberty Hall in Kenansville which was fascinating. The Kenan family is one of the founding families of UNC-CH. The 1800s home is beautiful and I particularly loved the George Washington painting that was upstairs. We have been to many many houses but the stories made this one interesting and unique. The furnishings and history were boarded up and left intact after the death of Mary Lillian Kenan in 1906 until the house was restored and opened to the public in 1965. You can watch a movie and see interesting artifacts in the visitor center. The house is fully furnished and their several outbuildings so plan on two hours for your visit.

We ended with a quick visit to the Cowan Museum located across the parking lot. It is a small museum with a large collection of items focusing on history and science. The items come from of the private collection of George and Illa Cowan. The collection largely consists of 19th and 20th-century tools and technology from that period.  It also has several other buildings and a park.  The kids enjoyed seeing the perm machine and music exhibit. Don’t forget to stop by the courthouse when you are in town. It is a beauty. On your next trip down to the beach, take a stop off 40 and take in a museum or a bite to eat at The Country Squire.

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For those following along. Here is what we have left from east to west…. Pamlico, Carteret, Onslow, Jones, Pitt, Matin, Wayne, Sampson, Franklin, Warren, Vance, Robeson, Scotland, Richmond, Guilford, Rockingham, Wilkes, Ashe, Caldwell, Alexander, Catawba, Lincoln, Madison, Jackson

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Wake County was a challenge for us because we have spent a lot of time there. We wanted to “officially” complete the county with things we had not seen or done before. We have been multiple times to the art, science and history museums which we love. When the kids were younger, we loved Marbles. We have been to Mordecai House and done the trolley tour which is not to be missed. We have been to the City of Raleigh Museum and done a great walking tour with them. We have spent so much time at the legislature we could give a tour. We have toured the old Capitol and Governor Mansion yes – we have even attended a bill signing with the Governor in the old Capitol. We have had the best tour guide in Raleigh – Frances George while we toured the Lt Governor Mansion. We have been to more farms than I can remember. Cobey has toured the NCSU library which I hear is great. We all toured the design department there which was interesting.   And I will not even attempt to name all the wonderful places we have eaten. After all that, I thought it would be hard but with a few suggestions from friends, we headed out.

20171109_102611Our first stop was in the Living Kitchen. There are three locations – Charlotte, Chapel Hill and Raleigh but we really don’t consider that a chain. It’s very different menu and delicious. Claire and I had smoothies and Cobey was delighted to have a yogurt parfait that was actually on his diet. Bonus we got to visit with friends. Check this place out for sure if you like healthier options.

 

20171109_112452Claire and I then thoroughly enjoyed picking out chocolate from Escazu. The place has a great vibe and delicious unique chocolate. They make chocolate seem like art. There were a ton of choices and many that were dairy free. It was hard but we settled on two each.   The little brown box reminds me of the little blue Tiffany box. You know there is something terrific inside. I am seeing many more brown boxes in our future.

 

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20171109_114417Our choice for lunch was The Roast Grill. When we stepped into this hole in a wall, I had high hopes. I love these types of places. Claire and I got hot dog and bottle drink to go.  The hot dog was a bust.  Claire and I agree with hotdogs in Salisbury are much better.  There are much better places to eat in Raleigh.  I understand it has been there forever. I understand the vibe it gives but there are much better places to get a hotdog. I could barely choke it down. Trust me just skip it!

 

20171109_115725We made the quickest stop ever by the NC History Museum to see Claire’s project. We were in and out in less than 15 minutes. It was record time but it was good to see her two winning projects and we had not stopped by yet.  If you are in the area, be sure to check out the NC Junior Historian exhibit. You will find some great projects from talented students across the state.

 

 

20171109_121429We then headed to Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. When we arrived, we figured out we were too early and they were not open yet. Honestly, outside we were not that impressed and you have to be careful because there is goose dung everywhere.   It is big but I really didn’t like the brown brick.

20171109_123907We decided to head back downtown to Raleigh Denim. I am so glad we did. We talked the curator about the business and even caught the owner for a moment. They started the business in their home with a sewing machine from eBay. It grew from there. You can see the jeans being sewed on site. We learned about raw denim and what makes the jeans special.  A pair of these is on my wishlist now after I lose a few more pounds.

 

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After the Raleigh Denim, we went back to the cathedral.  The kids were not too excited but we had more time before our last stop. I am so glad we did. Inside is amazing. The architecture, art, statues and stain glass are stunning.   Be sure to get a self-guided brochure so you can learn more about this remarkable building. This place is a must see!

Our last activity was an escape room. We had not done one before and thought it was a perfect opportunity. We chose the Geek Out room at Cipher Escape. We were joined by some friends. It was one of the harder rooms and sadly we did not escape but we still loved it. We would do it again for sure. Gather some friends together and do an escape room!

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Overall, another great adventure and fun day in Wake. It goes to show there is always something new to do in Wake.

 

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20171026_120321We started with a great tour at the Person County Museum of History. There is a lot to see on this small property. There are two houses, a schoolhouse. general store, bell tower, tobacco barn and doctor’s office. I was most intrigued by the people of Person County. There is a small exhibit about the Titanic. There was one Person County that died and one that survived.  There was a room dedicated to the story of baseball Hall of Famer,  Enos Slaughter. There were stories of businessmen, men in the service, a Governor and entertainers.  There is an extensive collection of artifacts and information. Take a tour and learn more about the people of Person County.

20171026_13221920171026_12333920171026_131217We had a nice lunch at  Bookland Eats. There were some interesting different choices. I tried the deviled eggs in three different styles. The bacon with blue cheese was the best but the others had too much vinegar for my taste. We also got pimento cheese and hushpuppies which was okay. (not what I expected) I had steak salad which was very good and I really enjoyed. Claire had fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese which looked okay but she didn’t care for it.   The creme brulee was not very good. I would say overall it was good but not great. Prices were reasonable and service was good so I would give it another try.

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20171026_144808We ended the day with a tour at Sunset  Ridge Buffalo Farm. The property is absolutely beautiful  We had a great tour guide that told us interesting facts about buffalo and the farm. We have been to a lot of farm tours in North Carolina but this was unique and we were able to purchase bison meat after.

Person County is easy to get to from the triangle but mainly overlooked. Make a point check it one day soon!

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20171015_123142When you ask where to eat and the county and they recommend a hot dog at the bowling alley, you begin to worry.  And when the best part of the county is the hot dog at the bowling alley well…

20171015_123107We first went to Stone Mountain State Park. We started with the visitor center which had a few display but dated and not much to speak of. We really didn’t have time to hike and there is nothing else there-  no lookouts or anything. I was hoping for something like Pilot Mountain where with a short walk you could have a scenic view. We didn’t find that in the park. We drove the loop of the park but there was nothing really to see. Maybe we missed something but it was disappointing.  We then headed the Blue Ridge Parkway which was beautiful as usual.

 

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We ended up eating at the bowling alley. First, it is actually outside the bowling alley which makes it a little better. Secondly, they had unique different topping based on different regions. I had the Atlanta  Cobey had the  Kansas City and Claire had the Chicago. I will say it is the best value of any of our meals yet. We ate for 13 dollars and it was a pretty dawg for the good hot dog! If you are ever in Sparta get a hot dog from the Hot Dog Station. There were a few other places to eat in the area that I would have tried if we had stayed longer but we had to get on the road for VA. The parkway and hot dogs at the bowling alley saved the day!

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Looking Glass Falls

Cardinal Drive In 2What an amazing three days in the mountains! The first day we started out at lunch at the Cardinal in Brevard, Transylvania County. The food was a good value for the price but nothing to brag about it. It reminded me of a Sonic with inside seating. The service;  well, they were a little grumpy toward the tourist that didn’t know what they were doing. But everyone should order food thru a red phone at least once in their life. It was worth the stop for the atmosphere.

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We then went a little out of town to PARI (Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute). Here, we had a program where we learned about radio astronomy, toured the facility and each student was able to operate a satellite. It is interesting and fascinating to have this facility in North Carolina. It was good but the Challenger Learning Center in Columbia, SC has them beat as far as programs. They have some interesting artifacts from space shuttles and they have a large mineral collection with the highlight being cupcake the dinosaur egg. I thought it was particularly interesting that they told us that the scientists were off on the timing of totality for the eclipse after all. And did you know the atmosphere is in trapped in bubbles in rocks? Fascinating!

Claire Sliding Rock

We went back through Brevard to get to Sliding Rock where the kids spent about an hour or so sliding down the rock. I hear the water was cold. Maybe next time I will join in but someone had to take photos. We ended up in Brevard for dinner at Jordan Cafe. The food was really good. Cobey and I had really good burgers and Claire had a wrap. The service was very slow. They messed up three of the orders and really didn’t try to make up for it. So, over all disappointing but I would try it again.

20170824_104400The next morning after a quick stop to Looking Glass Falls, we went to Cradle of the Forestry which is a National Historic Site. (Tip- It is free if you have a National Park Pass) First, please do not miss the movie. It gives a great background on the history of Forestry and its connection to Biltmore Estates. The museum is very interactive and then there are two walking trails with related buildings and a train. I debated between this and a new military museum in town. I am really glad we ended here because it was well worth the two and half hours we spent there. I highly recommend you stop in if you are in the area.

Kobe BurgerAfter the museum, we headed to Hendersonville, Henderson County for lunch at Flat Rock Wood Room. The lunch turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. It was epic! Our waiter set the stage by explaining everything so well and literally making us want to have everything on the menu. He built the food up so high that I was worried we might be disappointed but I can say it was an outstanding experience. We started with chicken wings which were probably the best I have ever had in my life- just amazing. Cobey had the special Kobe Burger that he said was the best burger he ever had and he knows burgers. He also tried the pizza which he loved. Claire had the Fork and Knife Sandwich which she is still talking about the sauce. I had the brisket with the best bacon cheese grits I have ever had. There were seven of us and we were over the moon satisfied. It was one of the best restaurants we have been to in NC.

Hendersonville BearsAfter lunch, we had a nice guided tour of the Henderson Historical Museum which is housed in the Old Courthouse.  Afterward, Claire enjoyed walking downtown and getting photos with all the bears. They have some quaint little shops including an ice cream shop, hard cider shop, bakery and Mast General Store. After hunting down all the bears, we headed to the cemetery to see the angel from Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel. By this time I don’t know how but we were hungry again and went to Hot Dog World. This is one of those local been there forever dives.  I had the pimento cheese burgers which was truly amazing. Henderson County has the food thing down pat.

20170825_092752On the last day, the first quick stop was the horse in quaint Tryon.  They use to make toy horses in the town and pull a giant wooden horse like this one down the street. We then headed to Columbus where we saw the Doughboy Statue and where we had one of the best-guided tours ever by Robert Williamson. We spent three hours at the House of Flags Museum and it was fascinating. It inspired Cobey for a history project and gave us an all a totally new appreciation of flags and their meaning.  You need to go just to find out about a Liberty Cap. Who knew you would find one of the best museums in the state in little Polk County?

 

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20170825_130405The last stop of the trip was at Tryon Internation Equestrian Center where we had lunch at Roger’s Diner. The food was very good and decent service. The center is very well laid out and impressively done. There are several restaurants, shops, general store and a large arena. I can see why horse folks love this place. Top Notch!

Three days and we found one of the best restaurants in the state and one of the best museums. I would call that a successful trip.

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Why I love the NC State Fair?

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday Oct 23, 2015 Under Claire, Cobey, Kid's Corner, North Carolina, Travel

Blue Ribbon for Digital ScrapbookThe state fair really is not a place one would think I would like. It is crowded and full of food that I can’t eat. And did I say crowded? I hate crowds and avoid them with a passion. I really don’t enjoy rides anymore. So why do I love the fair because there is so much more than rides and crowds and food. First there are all the entries. Claire entered several categories this year. I love that it gives or a chance to try something new or show off her talent. This year she discovered she loved making dish gardens. She also made an apron, did flower arrangement, scrapbook pages, tie dye and more.  So I love going and checking out Claire’s entries and others.

12140570_10205277293552451_574336622841564267_nCobey got a mask of Greg Fishel and loved going around the fair being Greg Fishel all day. I think he liked it because he didn’t have to smile for any of the photos. We also love going around getting all the free stuff and the answer is no you can not have too many bags or pencils or things. Oh and they loved all the free samples to taste.  And while we are on food, the kids got hamburgers, hotdogs, doughnut with strawberries and cream, and funnel cake. The typical fair food but I found a great Mediterranean Place and had a salad with a kabob.  It was delish!

 

King BMX ShowWe went to three shows. Claire went to a dog show which she liked. The rest of us could not get close enough to see. Did I say I hate crowds? The other two shows were King BMX Sport Show and pig racing. I was surprised but I  really enjoyed the Sport Show.  I would see it again for sure. The pig racing was corny but fun. You can’t go to the fair without seeing pig racing. Overall, We stayed from about 10am to 6pm. We didn’t ride any rides and there was still plenty we didn’t see.  I gave the kids each $20 for food or whatever they wanted and both came home with extra. I think of the fair as a celebration of our state and its people. I think everyone should go and find something they love!

 

 

 

 

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We have been to Asheville several times and decided to official complete Buncombe County with field trip friends. In previous trips, we have been to Biltmore multiple times. We absolutely love it. We have eaten at the Stables and also Cederic Tavern. They have the best audio for kids staring Cederic the dog. If you go to the area, don’t miss Biltmore it is worth the money. Homeschoolers check out Homeschool Days to save money.  We have stayed in Biltmore Inn also which is nice but not worth the money unless you get a special. Just my opinion. Having said all that, this trip was about exploring different things.

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The first stop was a tour of Basilica of St. Lawrence. The tour was informative but not my favorite tour guide. The church is breathtaking. It is open to the public and a must see. There is parking beside the church and a brochure in the church that will give you more information. Raphael Guastavino who worked on the Biltmore House was the architect for this National Treasure. After the tour, we took a walking tour of the Urban Tour in Downtown in Asheville. The tour has 30 stops with whimsical statues. It was a fun walk with a little history worked in. One tip, be careful not to get lost and try to cut through the parking lot of the Federal Building. They really don’t like that.. The photo below is from the trail.

 

Urban Trail

 

 

 

North Carolina Arboretum We made a stop that evening at the North Carolina Arboretum. I had been wanting to go for a while. It was not a good call. After a morning hiking at Mt Mitchel and then a long walking tour,  we were worn out. Claire loved the Bonsai collection which is phenomenal. We also liked the section that had a quilt pattern with flowers and the one that showed dye from different flowers and plants. There are a ton of trails you could enjoy and spend half a day easy. We were just too tired and hungry and headed out. We had a terrific meal at Stone Ridge Tavern. Cobey liked it so much that he asked if we could come back the next day. Cobey had gator bites, Claire had basil tomato soup and I had Greco Chicken. We had good service and good atmosphere. I highly recommend it and hope to make it back there.

 

 

11954810_10206275918111558_122406355404593091_n11232129_10206275914111458_4375354067668124217_n The next morning we started with a tour of Vance Birthplace in Weaverville. The Vance family purchased the property in 1795. There is a small visitor center with information where we learned more about civil war. In the house, we learned more about Governor Vance and about how it would have been to live during that time. The program was well put together. They recommended we had lunch at nearby Stoney Knob Cafe. This place was out of this world. They handled a large group seamlessly. The food was fresh and delicious. Go check out Vance Birthplace and then grab a bite to eat at Stoney Knob Cafe.

Thomas Wolfe HouseWe then went to Thomas Wolfe House for a tour.   Thomas Wolfe was a famous writer who wrote “Look Homeward, Angel” in this home which was a boardinghouse his mother had.  The house was built in 1883 and the second owners called it Old Kentucky. Thomas had a troubled childhood with an alcoholic father, distracted mother and a brother that died. We watched a film and had a tour of the house.  There is also a small museum which we unfortunately did not have time to enjoy. The photo on right was taken by Kim Biglow.

11951869_10206275903471192_8679276978285113411_nThe final day tour was at Asheville Botanical Gardens which is on the campus of UNC-Asheville. We started a talk by the director of the gardens. He did a great job of telling us about things to look for in the gardens and gave some background. It was clear that he was passionate about his work and I love for my children to be exposed to people like that. Some of the highlights of the gardens were bullfrogs, the moon tree from a seedling that went to the moon and a hummingbird moth.  I actually liked this place better than North Carolina Arboretum. I loved the native plants to the Southern Appalachia and natural feel. It is a beautiful area. Our last stop for the county was Ultimate Ice Cream. We had been hearing that it was the best in town. Cobey tried the Brown Sugar Maple and Bacon Ice Cream which they are famous for and he said it was great. He said it did not disappoint. They were not stingy with the samples and everyone enjoyed the ice cream.

Ultimate Ice Cream

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11987104_10206301221544128_466116147548740139_nBecause of scheduling issues, we ended up doing  Yancey County in two parts – Sunday afternoon and Tuesday morning.  We arrived in Burnsville at lunch time on Sunday. We soon figured out Sunday may have not been the best day to visit. We had a hard time finding a restaurant that was open. We finally found Sam’s Regal Beagle and decided to give it a try.  After we sat down, we began to hear a table in the next room loudly complaining. They complained about how long it took to get food, the waitress, and the quality of the food. The restaurant ended up charging them very little for a large party. We couldn’t help but wonder if this was a bad decision.  We stuck it out and ended up pleasantly surprised. They were out of some items but we were happy with our orders. Our waitress was the same one and she was friendly and attentive. Our food came out in a timely manner. It was not great but good.  Glad we had a better experience.

We then rode around the town looking for something open without much luck. We did enjoy looking at the quilt squares and the many murals in the area. The photo above and the photo to the right are all from the area.

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11902497_10153453222548950_1943773066144332891_nOn Tuesday morning, we had a foggy but beautiful drive to Mt. Mitchell.   It gave the background about the tallest mountain not only in North Carolina but the Northeast. The mountain is named after Elisha Mitchell who measured the mountain three times. The last time he fell to his death. There are several great trails.  We split up into several groups and tackled several different trails. Cobey had a great time and Mt Mitchel helped saved Yancey County from the bottom to closer to the top. Claire and I went on a shorter hike and then went to lunch at the Mt Mitchell Restaurant. I had a burger and Claire had soup. It was a good lunch with a nice view.  Mt Mitchell makes Yancey worth the visit.

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The Blowing Rock

Moses Cone ManorI went to Appalachian State University for college. I love the area and I wanted my kids to love it also. I was determined to have Watauga shine. We took the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway into the area. We stopped at one of my favorite college hangouts – Price Park. It was a nice day and there were lots of people but we finally found a place to park and walked around a bit. We decided against renting a boat at Price Lake and headed on to Moses Cone Manor. We enjoyed the views from the house and the beautiful crafts. If you have never been this is not your average crafts, the quality is excellent.  Moses H Cone was a textile magnate who built this 20 room, 13,000  square foot home in 1901. It is a must stop when you are on the parkway.

 

Mystery HillI lived in the area almost five years but never made it to the tourist traps. I decided this was my chance.  The first stop was The Blowing Rock. There is a town called Blowing Rock but there is also a tourist attraction. There is a Cherokee legend about the Blowing Rock that explains why there is a perpetual wind from the rock. It has fabulous views and I got a great but scary photo of Claire. (the photo at top of blog) But honestly, there are places like this throughout the area and you don’t have to pay but you may have to hike a little bit. Glad I went once but don’t know that  I would pay to go back. The same goes for Mystery Hill. The kids liked it and had fun but it was a little hokey.  You also get to visit the museum with your admission. It includes a huge arrowhead collection and the 1903 Dougherty House that once stood on the campus Appalachian. The house shows life in the 19th century.

 

The New Public House and HotelAfter Mystery Hill, we headed for Kilwin’s in downtown Blowing Rock. Downtown is cool and quaint and fun to walk around. One of my favorite downtowns in the state.  The kids liked the ice cream at Kilwin’s but they loved the orangeade. They claimed I had been depriving them.  We walked around and stumbled upon the The New Public House. Fortunately. they had room for us at a table in the bar. This was one of our best meals during our challenge. The kids shared Jambalaya and I had Free Range Chicken.  The service was great and the atmosphere is neat.

 

 

 

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After dinner, we drove to Boone where I showed them the stadium and my old dorm.  The second dorm I lived in has been torn down.  Claire got a photo with “The Rock” and the footprints.  We got a photo of what is the ugliest courthouse we have seen so far and then headed to the hotel.

 

Foggy Mountain Gem MineThe next morning we ended up going gem mining at Foggy Mountain Gem Mine. They both enjoyed it, worked together and ended up with a bag full of gems.  The staff was friendly and helpful. I would go back for sure.  Of the three paid attractions we did in the county, it was by far the best.  They both decided that Watauga County was pretty good even if their mom liked it and it is still tops for me.

View from Blowing Rock

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We had a fabulous day in Clay County. The kids had previously been to Clay’s Corner doing work on a history project but I had never been. It is the smallest county in the state but it is well rounded. It had something fun to do, preserved history and great places to eat.  Our first stop was Chucky Gal Stables. We had a two hour ride that was great. We took a trail up the mountain.  We had a break by a waterfall that was nice but not great. The ride would have been even better if we had a great view at an overlook or of some falls. We were at the side of the falls at the top which was just okay.  I would ride with them again because they were great to work with and the horses were wonderful.

 

 

 

Old Jail - Clay County

We then headed to the Old Jail where the Clay County Historical Museum is located.  The museum has many exhibits including one of a local doctor,  a jail cell, moonshine, Native Americans and kitchen. Claire especially liked the exhibit of fabrics from old feed sacks. Down the hill there is small Indian Village replica with information on wayside boards. We checked out the the old courthouse and the square then headed for lunch.

 

 

11745599_10205991138192238_2103406100570381214_nThe true test of every county is can we find something good to eat. Clay County did not disappoint. We ended up at Chevelle’s 69. Do not be scared away with the Biker’s Welcome Sign although it did give me pause. This place is great! They have a fun atmosphere not scary, prodigious menu and great service. Cobey was thrilled with separate menu with all burgers and selected a Greek Burger. Claire got pasta and I got salmon. Claire said there was too much Parmesan cheese on her pasta. How can you have too much cheese? Otherwise, every thing else was great. Who knew you could get great salmon at a Biker Bar.  They have great specials throughout the week.  If we are ever anywhere close, we would go back for sure. You should also.

 

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